Last week, I discussed the possibility that Facebook conversations, when undertaken in place of actual face-to-face conversations, could be a hindrance to relationship building, especially for folks who find themselves isolating as a matter of inclination. In addition, one writer cited how, the, um, level of discourse often lends itself to trivialization, despite the many wonderful stories of how social networking sites can rally support for community causes.
Now, here’s another couple of issues to at least consider. In a posting, “Soul-Searching on Facebook,” Sunday on the Washington Post’s “Faith” site, writer William Wan looks into the intriguing answers given by millions of users when asked to fill out the user profile box under “religious views.”
Here’s where this piece heads: “Such public proclamations of beliefs used to require a baptism in water, or a circumcision, or learning the five pillars of Islam. Now Facebook users announce their spiritual identity with the stroke of a few keys. And what they are typing into the open-ended box offers a revealing peek into modern faith and what happens to that faith as it migrates online.”
Did you know that “Jedi” is the 10th most cited religious belief? Amid the “Pastafarians” who fill out the box, many millions are quite serious on how they answer. “(They) have plumbed their innermost thoughts, struggling to sum up their beliefs in roughly 10 words or less. For many, it has led to age-old questions about purpose, the existence of the divine and the meaning of life itself.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times Sunday had a story headlined “Facebook Exodus,” about how the lack of privacy online and corporate behind-the-scenes information gathering is causing a small but growing number of people to leave the site behind.
As for online relationships and faith(fulness), intriguing story today in the San Jose Mercury News about people searching out childhood sweethearts via social networking sites — even when these searches, and the motivations behind them, can lead to broken marriages.
More on the disturbing and shocking Jaycee Dugard case. On Sunday, the New York Times published a story about the 40-some images shot by English photographer Nick Stern of the backyard compound where, authorities say, Phillip Garrido kept Dugard.
Both the NYT and LA Times also weighed in on whether the Dugard case will decide a vote scheduled for today as the California Assembly is scheduled to take on prison reform. The Assembly’s gutting of the prison reform bill, in light of the Dugard case, was also the subject of the Sunday editorial in the Sentinel. The reform bill would save money and parole more prisoners early.
In addition, the LA Times published a story on the Antioch area’s high concentration of sex offenders.
As for the photos, the images were published Sunday in The Sunday Times of London, The New York Post and some Web sites. The NYT interviewed Stern, who told the paper he jumped a fence Friday and “did not consider the lot — which was surrounded by a fence and dotted with trees — a crime scene.”
Hmmm. It is a crime scene. The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office, under tremendous fire for missing opportunities to solve this case, could go after the photographer, but at this point, the photos are out there and telling a story. Here’s one of the shots taken by Nick Stern: